2016 South Carolina Primary

The South Carolina primary will immediately follow the New Hampshire primary in 2016. The “first-in-the-South” primary gives a voice to Southern states in the presidential nomination process. South Carolina often helps to begin significantly narrowing down the field of candidates following contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In 2016, the Democrats and Republicans will hold their South Carolina Presidential Primary on different dates in February:

Republican Date
Saturday, February 20
Republican Primary Results

Democratic Date
Saturday, February 27
Democratic Primary Results

Polling places are open from 7:00am to 7:00pm on both primary election dates. Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Find Your Polling Place:
SCVotes Voter Search

Primary Type: Open (a voter may vote in either party primary, regardless of party affiliation)

Delegates: 59 D, 50 R (Proportional)

SC Election Commission (PDF)
South Carolina Democratic Party (PDF)

Latest Polls: Democrats, Republicans

State Authority: South Carolina State Election Commission

Political Parties: South Carolina Republican Party, South Carolina Democratic Party

Historical Winners: (by year)

2012: Newt Gingrich (R)
2008: Barack Obama (D), John McCain (R)
2004: John Edwards (D)
2000: Al Gore (D), George W. Bush (R)
1996: Bob Dole (R)

What is the South Carolina Primary?

The South Carolina Primary is state-sponsored primary voting day. Voters will go to their typically voting locations in their precincts to make a choice for their respective party presidential nominee.

The South Carolina Primary, similar to New Hampshire and Iowa, is considered one of the “early states” in the presidential nomination process. While New Hampshire holds the “first-in-the-nation” primary title, South Carolina holds the “first-in-the-south” title as it is the first Southern state in the calendar to vote for presidential candidates running for their respective party nomination.

Often South Carolina is considered the “tie-breaker” between Iowa and New Hampshire if the states differ on candidate selection. For example, in the 2012 cycle, all Iowa and New Hampshire split with Iowa selecting Rick Santorum, and New Hampshire selecting Mitt Romney. Interestingly, neither of those two candidates won South Carolina with that prize going to Newt Gingrich which served to bolster his campaign further into the primaries.

South Carolina has a history of usually selecting the candidate who will go on to become the nominee. This was true in 1996, 2000, and 2008. However, 2012 broke that streak when Newt Gingrich did not get much further than South Carolina, in terms of primary victories.